The Pride and Prejudice of the Western World

Canonic Memory, Great Books and Archive Fever


  • Karl Ivan Solibakke Syracuse University



Great Books Movement, cultural memory


The article examines controversies arising from the perception of the instruments of cultural memory and the logic of their transmissibility. On the one hand we have a carefully selected, temporally and geographically orchestrated body of texts, the Great Books, which are an enduring testament to the authority of Western intellectual artifacts. On the other hand, Jacques Derrida’s Archive Fever locates a furtive transformation of collective memory in the informal practices exemplified by oral narrative and public discourse. Not only do both models rely on archives as a functional instrument of collective identity, but they also value them as institutions circumscribing social and cultural conventions. However, when synchronizing the traces embedded in oral discourse and written documents, the repositories are frequently subject to manipulation by interpretive communities. Recognizing the processes underlying archives and artifacts is essential to comprehending how canons and canonic practices impact Western cultural memory.


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How to Cite

Solibakke, K. I. (2012). The Pride and Prejudice of the Western World: Canonic Memory, Great Books and Archive Fever. Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts, 6(1-3), 261–275.